Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World
by Tony Wagner
This book was recommended by a dear friend who is an administrator at a Chicago public high school. As a former teacher myself (and now a stay-at-home mom with three little students I call my own), after I read it, I thought, every parent should read this book.
In Creating Innovators, Tony Wagner states that the future of our country is in desperate need for young children to be taught by adults that will foster creativity and lend an abundance of support. As jobs are being shipped overseas and the unemployment rate is alarmingly high, the future of our country depends on the youth and their innovative ideas. Wagner states that children need three simple things to succeed: play, passion, and purpose. As teachers and parents, I asked myself, are we doing enough to create future innovators?
Through his research, Wagner observed young innovators and pieced together their unique educational upbringing. He concludes that the young men and women he met had this in common: parental support, differentiated instruction, and interested mentors who guided each and every one of them to the right paths. He is also a firm believer that students involved in STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are making a great impact in creating a healthy future for our economy.
By showcasing young adults with different backgrounds and a variety of socio-economic status, Wagner introduces us to young men and women like Jamien Sills. Jamien, raised by a single-mother, aspired to become a shoe designer despite of his traditional school trying to convince him of choosing a "safer" career. After a lot of trials and tribulations, we learn of the new journey that helped Jamien find his way.
While learning all about the manufacturing business in China, Jamien found that the making and assembling of sneakers was toxic to the employees. He was alarmed but determined to do something about the situation. He found a way to make a greener and less harmful shoe in a less expensive way. Even more remarkable, he is now paying it forward. Jamien has worked as a counselor for the Memphis Youth Leadership Program, teaching an eight-week course on entrepreneurship skills to inner-city minority youth. He took his passion and now delivers it with a purpose.
Jamien's story is one of the many featured that are truly inspirational. The subjects presented are a group of remarkable young people, but the stories of the support system behind them, such as innovative teacher, Amanda Alonzo, are quite amazing as well. Many (if not all) of the people involved in Wagner's research have the gift of going against the traditional way of thinking, teaching, and assessing.
While reading Creating Innovators, I picked up a few pointers for the teacher and the mom in me. I realized that not all planned and structural teaching moments (even if it's just for fun) are as important as relaxing the schedule a bit, stepping back a lot of the times and letting my kids be bored for a bit. A significant amount of creative play might be my best new plan to foster a passion in my children that would lead to a greater purpose.
The book is an innovation in itself! This is the first book that I personally have read with Microsoft Tags. You can use your smartphone by downloading a free app and scanning the QR codes throughout the book for an extensive reading experience.
Betty Galvan, is helping her readers "find the positive and seek the benefits" over at her blog, MyFriendBettySays.com.
She is the mother of three beautiful little boys and a teacher.